When Perfection Interrupts Our Busy Lives

We talked yesterday about the thrill of the unknowing. And how it amplifies our creativity and keeps our mind sharp.

Today I’d like to go just a little deeper along a similar line.

Last weekend, my wife and I decided to take the kids to a pier near the bay. The day was hot, but we took advantage of a rare windy day that sliced through the humidity.

As we strolled the empty pier, I looked down at the oldest of my twin daughters and caught her staring back at me. We both smiled. But hers seemed to freeze time.

The moment was instantly embedded in my memory. Never to be forgotten.

As someone who spends a good chunk of the day thinking about words, it’s hard to pin down what that moment was like.

It was liquid. It was bird song. It was wind whistling through blades of grass. It was a hundred sunsets.

Have you ever had a moment like that?

Where the divine tips its hat and greets you in the most random of ways.

Where all of your stray thoughts and emotions become secondary to this ephemeral moment of perfection that gleams over your place in time.

The Ancient Greeks, who were obsessed with personifying abstract objects (it was sort of their thing), had two names for time. Chronos and Kairos.

As you could probably guess, Chronos is where the word “chronological” comes from. This is that linear, one moment after another, quantitative time we’re all accustomed to.

We’re born into this form of time.

We live in it. There’s no slowing it down.

Lucky for us, the Greeks found another phenomena that also necessitated personification, that is — Kairos.

Kairos is qualitative time. Random moments of perfection that cut into chronological time.

This could be the feeling of being “in the zone” for an athlete. Or the “flow” for the artist.

You might be sipping a cup of coffee while observing a sunrise, or tickle fighting with your spouse before bedtime, when suddenly perfection arrives. Everything comes together. Life, if only for a brief moment, becomes full. Nothing can be added or taken away from that instant.

This is what I felt that day on the pier. That moment I was swept up in my daughter’s smile.

It’s just too bad that we can’t snap our fingers and make these moments appear at our command.

But I think if we could learn to pull away from our busy lives, pause from all of our doings, we just might be able to catch more of them.

Maybe even enjoy them a little while longer.

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